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North Africa and Middle East Science centers network (NAMES)

Introduction to NAMES:

The goal of NAMES is the democratization of science throughout the region by enhancing the public understanding of and involvement in science by means of informal education.

Networking for a better future

There is a worldwide consensus that a sustainable culture of innovation will depend on more young people being interested in the future of science and technology. This interest must be nurtured and developed at a very early age through formal education in schools as well as informal education exemplified in science centers, children’s museums and science parks.

Science Centers and Museums are facilities dedicated to furthering the public awareness and understanding of science among increasingly diverse audiences; they encourage creativity and spark interest in the world around us.

For a science center to really achieve its goal of the democratization of science, it is obliged to follow the dynamic and ever-changing pace of science and technology. The most effective way to do so is through opening up to the fast developing world and cooperating with similar establishments regionally and internationally. It is for this reason that science centers networks were established all around the world. Some of the networks are: ASTC, ECSITE, Red-POP, ASPAC, SAASTEC, NCSM, and China.

NAMES was created to provide professional development for the science center field in North Africa and the Middle East region. NAMES aims to promote best practices, to support effective communication and to strengthen the position of science centers within the community at large. NAMES aspires to encourage excellence and innovation in informal science learning by serving and linking its members in the Middle East and North Africa and advancing their common goals.

The goals of NAMES are to be achieved through excellence and innovation in informal education and by offering hands-on activities where the public can indulge in participatory learning. 


4th General Assembly Meeting Theme

Innovation: Revisiting your Mind

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain

An innovation is something original, new, and important—in whatever field—that breaks in to, or obtains, a foothold in a society. As all of us recognize the heightened importance of innovation to competitive success, we face an apparent paradox; orderly and predictable decisions are increasingly dependent on the disorderly and unpredictable process of innovation. What we need are creative and innovative solutions for fostering sustainable growth, and increasing competitive abilities; but, how can we expect to plan for a process that is itself so utterly dependent on creativity and inspiration?


4th General Assembly Meeting Sub-Themes

I. Innovate to Educate (Informal Education)

The challenge of closing the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots may rest with the willingness of the education community to view education from a new perspective and to innovate. This may include making use of affordable and accessible technologies to expand access to education. It may also require other innovative process or service strategies that do not rely on technology. It may require a shift in focus, to target educational and training programs to align more closely with what people identify as their most urgent needs.

Providing education in new and unconventional ways is only one of a number of solutions, but it is through innovation that we can meet the challenges of improved efficiencies, lower costs, increasing accessibility, and greater success in achieving development goals through education.

II. Innovate to Reach (Marketing)

The link between innovation and productivity growth receives particular attention. In fact, innovation is often thought of as the “engine of growth” because of its lasting long-run effects on productivity. Although the conceptual links between innovation and productivity are strong and clear, the relationship between the two is complex.

In this context, innovation includes both fundamental and applied innovation. Moreover, innovation can take the form of organizational and marketing changes, which expands demands for products, support existing structures for new methods of production, and increase the efficiency of the other types of innovative effort, leading to productivity improvements.

Investment in research and development is a crucial prerequisite for fostering innovation. Innovation also depends on the quality of supporting institutions such as the knowledge infrastructure (universities, government labs, etc.), a healthy business environment, and sound market framework policies (competition and intellectual property protection, etc.).

III. Science Behind Innovation (How to Innovate)

Innovation, often thought of as research proper, comprises the invention of new products and processes. It is a familiar concept, often measured by patents granted or active patents, sometimes adjusted for quality. The R&D intensity, an input measure, is also used by many as a proxy for innovation.

While innovation is crucial for economic growth, sustainable development and welfare, many inspiring technological ideas never make it into society. Innovation Sciences focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of why this is the case, and how to improve the situation.

The biggest secret of innovation is that anyone can do it. The reason is simple; it is just not that hard. To innovate is “to introduce something new”; that is it. the trick to innovation is to widen your perspective on what qualifies as new.

IV.  Innovation and Society / Innovation and Social Change

In society, technological innovation aids in comfort, convenience, and efficiency in everyday life, which highlights its widespread effect. Innovation is not only a modern phenomenon; it is the development of new value through solutions that meet new needs, which is the catalyst to growth.

Rarely has the need for new ways of thinking been more glaring. From the sluggish economic growth and financial instability of the last several years to the perennial issues of political upheaval, resource crises, hunger, poverty, and disease, people have come to realize that the old ways of doing things no longer work.

Whether one lives in the developed or the developing world, the fates of Africans, Americans, Asians, Europeans, and everyone on the planet are inextricably linked.